Aaron Lucero and Jeffrey Cannon didn’t pay much for their wedding. Though the ceremony and reception, held last November, boasted a photo booth from the The Snap Back Photo Booth Company, Texas BBQ from 5 Star Event Services, mariachis, live music by Serenata Strings, and more, the couple really only paid for the flowers and food — even the labor that it took to prepare the food and set up the flowers was free. The reason: 29 vendors donated their services for the nuptials when the couple made national headlines after being turned away from a Dallas venue by homophobic owners.
When Lucero and Cannon met five years ago, things did not start off great. Lucero had come across Cannon’s unpretentious OKCupid profile describing a man who was a “world rover.” Instantly struck by the bio, Lucero sent a message. A few days later, after no response, he sent another. And as a last-ditch effort he sent a third. Finally, out of courtesy for the sheer persistence, Cannon, who was ignoring the greetings because of the two men’s age difference—and the fact that the service’s online matchmaking survey said they were not a match—finally responded.
“We chatted for a few weeks, but I really was putting off meeting him,” Cannon says. In fact, he had no intention of doing so until he ran out of excuses on a snowy day in Dallas. “So I said if you want to come over to my house, I’ve got some leftover enchiladas. That was our first date: He came over and we ate leftover enchiladas and talked for hours. It was really the best date I’ve ever had.” What the two found was that they had a lot in common. They were not only both lovers of travel, but both were raised Mormon. They also both spoke Spanish: Lucero is Mexican-American while Cannon lived in Mexico City for two years.
“We’ve been pretty nonstop since the first date,” Cannon says. Within the span of three months they were planning a two-week camping trip. Within five they were going on their first international trip. It was a match no matter what the algorithm showed.
In June 2018, Cannon proposed while the two men were visiting Italy. He contracted a photographer couple ahead of time, having them pose as tourists as he and Lucero headed to dinner. He then flagged them down in mock fashion and asked them to take the couple’s picture. When everyone was in place and the photographer said “OK, that’s perfect,” Cannon dropped down to one knee and asked Lucero to spend the rest of their lives together.
“I knew that something was up and thought he might pop the question on the trip, but I didn’t know when and where,” Lucero recalls. “I thought it was going to be at the dinner, so it was really wonderful that he was able to surprise me and do it before.”
While the Texans were cruising on a high heading into their wedding planning, they were brought to a sobering low quite early in the process. After visiting The Venue at Waterstone, which matched their dream of having a nice rustic event, they received an email from the owner saying that it did not host same-sex weddings. The story made national headlines and The Knot, a wedding site that Lucero had found the venue on, removed the space from its verified listings after being reached by Out.
“That weekend was really hard,” Cannon says. Directly after receiving the email the couple turned to all of the other venues they were considering to inform them that they were two men — several replied that they weren’t “equipped” to handle a gay union. “I remember having a hard conversation about if we [still] wanted to get married in Texas. I didn’t want to have to go through this with every single vendor.” So they put a pause on planning.
Out of the blue, photographer Michael Bush reached out. He had shot a wedding at The Venue right before news broke about Lucero and Cannon’s experience and as a result vowed to never shoot at the space again. Bush offered to shoot the couple’s nuptials in a type of penance. Then Lynn Jackson, a wedding planner, came on and spearheaded an effort to push back on the idea that Texas didn’t embrace its queer community. The result was a group effort that saw The UPS Store donate the printing of all stationary, Prime Limo take care of limo service for the grooms send off, Posh Cakes by Shane Morgan provide the cake, and more.
“It really encouraged us and gave us hope that we could still do it here in Dallas, that people are accepting, and the wedding industry here really does love the LGBT community,” Lucero says. In the end the pair got the rustic country wedding they wanted, set outside in a grove of trees at Whispering Oaks. The reception that followed was in a barn a short walk away. But what stuck out truly was the love.
“I will always remember getting to interact with all the vendors and having them tell us they had a connection with someone who was close to them that was gay,” Lucero says. “So, this was kind of one way that they wanted to reach out and help out and serve as support for our community.”
Congratulations to Mr. and Mr. Arron and Jeffrey Cannon-Lucero.
To read more, grab your own copy of Out's Pride issue featuring Atlanta-based musician Damez as the cover on Kindle, Nook, Apple News+ and Zinio today, and on newsstands June 30. Preview more of the issue here. Get a year's subscription here. The issue was guest edited by photographer Alex D. Rogers.